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Stackyard News Jul 07

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Environment Agency Should Rethink Priorities Over Flooding

The Environment Agency should harness the expertise of farmers and landowners
to combat flooding, after years of focussing on the wrong targets according to the Country Land and Business Association.


Speaking at the waterlogged Royal Welsh Show, CLA President David Fursdon accused the Environment Agency of failing to prioritise flood protection and of not being strong enough to secure adequate funding from Government. He said the Environment Agency had been 'fixated' by the issue of water quality and while this is important they had failed to properly anticipate flooding.

And he called on the Environment Agency to work with farmers in a constructive way instead of using the Big Stick approach. Land could be used differently both in terms of sacrificing land upstream of settlements for containment of water and using land for crops and trees that would soak up excess rain.

"The current situation with flooding is a dramatic reminder of the impact climate change can have on Britain and also an urgent Wake Up call for the Environment Agency, whose job it is to anticipate these problems and deal with them appropriately", said Mr Fursdon.

"In this they have been found wanting and have been fixated on the issue of water quality and the implementation of European directives. They seem to have been ignoring fundamental problems of flood prevention and alleviation.

"Often the expertise available in local drainage boards is ignored, even where farmers have kept their side of the bargain,necessary dredging has not always been done by the Environment Agency, often with conservation as an excuse – an excuse that is simply not good enough.

"The problems are not just the result of recent cuts in the Environment Agency budget either. These haven't yet had time to bite.

"In any event, if a strong enough case had been made, budget cuts would not have happened so let's hope for less time spent on endless paperwork and more time on practical action. This means talking to farmers and landowners about how they can be part of the solution and incentivising them to provide washlands and devising schemes of protection upstream of settlements.

"It's about an attitude of mind and let's hope we can now have some humility from the Environment Agency and a greater willingness to look at these issues".

link Farmers' Food for Thought at Energy Event
link Boom in Woodlarks Prompts Return to Farmland
link A Green Revolution Has Begun
link Hilary Benn Unveils Campaign to Inspire Climate Action

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